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“Wonderful vacation spot!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Hotel Riu Guanacaste

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Hotel Riu Guanacaste
4.0 of 5 Resort (All-Inclusive)   |   Playa Matapalo | Canton de Carrillo, Sardinal, Costa Rica   |  
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Special Offer
Up to $2000 Resort Credit
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
U.S.A.
Contributor
20 reviews 20 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
“Wonderful vacation spot!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2013

Went here for 8 days with a group of 6 and we had such a wonderful time. The food was actually quite good - our favorites were the Italian, Toucan, and Asian restaurants. In my opinion, the Steakhouse restaurant wasn't worth going through the trouble of making a reservation for. The biggest downside of the resort was that they allow locals to come and use their facilities during the weekends. They actually ended up overbooking when we arrived due to the amount of locals coming that weekend and had to move 2 of the people in our party next door to the Riu Palace. It ended up not being too much of an inconvenience because they could still use all of the facilities at our hotel (however not vise versa). To avoid the crowds on the weekend, we planned our excursions during that time (Fri night - Sun morning).

Book your excursions with Jose on the beach from "Costa Rica Best Tours", he did a fantastic job for a great price, much cheaper then the resort prices. Our tour guide was Luis who was very friendly and made our trips even more fun! Also, make sure to use some of the free water activities that the hotel provides like snorkeling, kayaking, and paddleboarding!

Overall, this hotel was absolutely worth the money. The staff was very friendly and the facilities were kept clean - I would definitely return to a Riu resort in the future!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (1,001)
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English first
Aliso Viejo, California
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 12, 2013

Want to start off by saying that staying at Riu Guancaste from July 25 - August 3rd and it was awesome. All staff person are friendly, bar tenders were great go above and beyond. Angela who is a Bar Tender, Waitress there has got to beone of the nicest person you will meet there. If you happen to go there make sure you get service from her you won't regret it. Staff at the pool bar are awesome down to earth guys, make sure you go to the Pool Bar guys they make drinks real good there ask for Jordi he does them good. We did private tours which are recommend because you can ask the driver to stop anywhere of course, but when you do it through the Hotels it's a bit of a hassle since you are all in a group. We did Ziplining, Waterfall tour, Hot springs and Active Volcanoe as well as White water Rafting which was awesome. Rolando is your guy for the tours, very friendly and will give you history on Guanacaste city as well i highly recommend it here is his email rcarballoangulo@yahoo.com Rolando Private Torus and trust me he will make your Tours great. For the best White Water rafting i recommend the one we did as well the company is RCR Rafting which he can also provide you the details that it's the best.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013 via mobile

We really read the reviews before we went and were pretty prepared for what to expect when we got there. We knew there would be lots of people there on the weekends since the place does open to the locals for a low price, so we actually planned our excursions then and avoided the crowds.

The food was actually pretty good. It's funny to see people who hated it on here, but my family tends to be pretty picky about food and we found most of the restaurants to be pretty good. Italian was our favorite, then the Toucan and then the Asian. The steakhouse was pretty good too but if you like your meat less than medium well, ask for medium rare.

We always went to the Santa Cruz bar and had a great time with Rohanas. Just ask for your drinks as doubles and they will be stronger than what they normally pour.

The sewage smell in the room was kind of annoying but we were never in there. We also brought a plug in air freshener which helped.

People complained about not having enough water bottles in the room. We went to the front desk every morning and they gave us water bottles before we headed to the pool. The staff are so friendly and honestly everyone in Costa Rica is.

For our excursions we went through Jose (pink shirt) on the beach and was guided by Luis who was awesome. Do the Buena Vista tour with the horseback riding, spa and zip lining through the jungle. Definitely the highlight.

Also, take advantage of the free watersports through the hotel, like paddle boarding kayaking and snorkeling. We also paid extra for jet skiing which was awesome.

All in all my family of 6 loved this place. If I had to pick one thing I really disliked was it being a kids resort too. But we knew that coming in.

  • Stayed August 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Godfrey, Illinois
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

We stayed at the RIU Guanacaste on July 28 - Aug 2. There were 13 of us, ranging in age from 61 years to two months. Family members traveled from Chicago, St. Louis, Miami, and Madrid Spain to meet here for 6 days. I had looked for a place that would have something for everyone for this varied age group, and the RIU Guanacaste fit the bill. For the adults there was swim up bar, nightly entertainment, 4 reservation restaurants, tennis courts, spa and fitness center, discotique and casino. For the kids, swimming, beach, kids club, monkeys and iguanas. A piece of paradise. The RIU property was beautiful and we had a great time! The only restaurant that took reservations the week we were there was the Steak house. Everything else was first come, first served. You would show up and put your name on the list and wait. El Tucan was the only one that was an uncomfortable wait. We showed up at 6p and did not get in until 8:45. The kids were getting very restless and we had just decided to go to the buffet when we got in. The food was great, just a long wait -- but there were 13 of us.
One family of 2 adults and 2 kids room only had a king bed instead of 2 doubles, so the first two nights they had to all 4 sleep in one bed. When the family finally mentioned it, I asked the RIU to change them to a family room which has one king, one double and a roll away. The RIU gladly changed their room the next night, and did not charge an additional fee to us to do so. This being said, the family room, or even the 2 bedroom family room is well worth the upgrade when traveling with children. I makes your life so much easier, especially if the child is young enough to take naps in the afternoon.

The RIU also supplied a crib for our 2 month old, but that family's room was far away from the rest of us on a different floor. On check in, we requested that the rooms be closer, and they were able to get the whole party on the same floor, but other side of hotel. We had 2 rooms on the 5th floor down the hall from each other on the RIU Palace side, and 4 rooms on the 5th floor next to each other on the jungle side. This worked out fine for us, but we preferred the rooms on the jungle side. There the monkey's would be in the trees outside the balcony each morning.
We were there from a Sunday to a Friday, so missed the local weekend rush that I read about on other reviews.
The beds were hard, but were not uncomfortably so for us.

We really enjoyed the food. All of it. Our favorite was the Steak House. We had a BD celebration there and they even provided a cake. Our travel agent had tried to prearrange a birthday celebration at the Italian restaurant for us, but their contact was on vacation and we did not get the note about the reservation until 6pm on the day of the reservation. We had done a tour - ziplining, horseback riding, mud baths, and hot springs that day and didn't arrive back until 6p when the reservation was scheduled. We went down to the Italian restaurant to let them know we couldn't make it then, and they didn't know what we were talking about. I finally just told them to cancel. This was not a deterent as we had made our own arrangements for the Steak House the day before and arranged the birthday celebration. We had eaten at the Italian two days before anyway. Just a mess up and bad timing.

We had massages on the beach ($60 for a couple) that were fantastic.
We also compared the tours from the beach vendors and the ones offered in the hotel lobby. The ones on the beach are a better value. Although we did take one tour from CAT in the lobby that was very good, and ended up being a private tour for us since the had 8 adults and 2 kids. This was Ziplineing, horseback riding, lunch, mud bath, swimming pool and slide, and hot springs. They even arranged so the 2 year old and 5 year old could zip line with a guide, and have their own horses. Very accommodating! Only disappointment was that we misunderstood that there would be ATV's for one couple that were not interested in the horseback riding, and that wasn't there. The couple waited by the pool while we went horseback riding. This also included lunch which was excellent.

The reason the this review was not excellent, and the only real problem we had, was when we were leaving. The family from Spain had arrived right after us, and we actually met in the lobby, so the timing was great! The hotel took all the bags to our respective rooms after check-in and that all went smoothly. However, the Spanish family had not checked their bag when it arrived in their room, and when they were packing to go, they noticed one of the wheels was torn off of their bag. It was a large rolling duffle bag with four wheels. When we approached the manager (he would not give us his full name, but his first name was Santana) he asked if we had seen it happen. When we said no, it had happened when the bags were delivered at the room upon arrival, Santana stated that since we had not seen it happen, we could not prove that the damage had been done by the RIU. We heard them talking in Spanish (the Spanish couple are fluid in Spanish) about finding the wheel and throwing it away, but they would not admit that to us, and would not consider any compensation. I informed the manager (Santana) that we had spent a lot of money at the hotel -- there were 13 of us -- and I felt that he should make some kind of compensation to satisfy us, if for nothing else, good customer relations. He reiterated that we could not prove the RIU had done the damage, and that they would make no consideration. I insisted that an incident report be made out. Santana gave us a form to fill out and left. We filled it out and took a copy back to him to sign. Santana was no longer at the desk, and we had to wait for him to be called back. When he arrived, he filled out his portion of the complaint form (in Spanish), but did not sign it. Santana insisted the RIU was not responsible for the damaged luggage, since we had not witnessed the incident and could not prove it. We had to request, again, for Santana to sign the complaint form, which he finally did. We kept a copy of the form, and turned in to our travel agent when we arrived home. I agree that we could not prove the damage was done since the Spanish family did not find the missing wheel until checkout, but the attitude was very upsetting. It felt like he was accusing us. I will write a review on Trip Advisor and on the RIU website about this. I think it should always be assumed that the customer is right. This was not good customer relations! It also caused us to be 45 minutes late catching the shuttle to the airport. Luckily they waited as CAT knew what was going on and we were not late to the airport. Luckily he could still get the bag to the airport, but with an infant and one wheel missing (it was a big bag) it was not a good ending to the trip. The rest of the time and the staff were lovely. Too bad about this. We were hoping for a replacement of the bag - not that much. The Spanish family said they would probably will just forget it now -- it was the attitude that sticks with you, and not a great ending to a trip. Nor an easy transit home for the Spanish couple who had 2.5 hour flight to Miami, then a 9 hour flight to Madrid ahead of them, with an infant, stroller, and broken luggage.
Aside from this, the property itself is beautiful and well kept. We had a great time, although some challenges. Travelling with 13 people is a challenge in itself!
Too bad the bag incident left a bad taste in our mouths at the end of the trip, but it did not spoil the stay while there.
We have stayed in several other RIU properties, and the property itself was right up there, but the organization required to keep things running smoothly seemed somewhat lacking.

Room Tip: Choose 5th floor jungle side if you wish to see monkeys. If traveling with kids - get the family...
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  • Stayed July 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

My husband and I stayed here for 7 nights from July 18-25. I read many many reviews before booking this, so this will be an honest review of the place.

Overall, I was very happy with the place. The room was basic... nothing special, there was a king size bed, a balcony overlooking the jungle side, and a bathroom. I am not a picky traveler, so no... I did not smell any of the sewage problem that many people here talk about coming from the bathroom. We did not spend lots of time in the room, besides for showering and sleeping. The way I see it is that you pay all this money to enjoy the surroundings and the place and NOT spend time in the room. So yes, the room was ok, basic, nothing spectacular, but it worked really well for us.
The food was good... not great, not overly special, but it was good. We were there for 6 full days, and I never got sick of the same thing... there was always something to eat and not starve. I loved the breakfast and the lunch. For dinner we ate at the Asian restaurant, the main restaurant, and the Italian one. We are vegetarians so we didn't go to the steak restaurant. There is another restaurant as well, Tucan, but we didn't eat there... I guess we should've tried it at least once, but there were many options, so we never did. I enjoyed the food, again, nothing spectacular. If you expect 5 star restaurants, then I suggest you go somewhere else.
The beach and the pool were GREAT!! I loved it. Loved it! Most of the time we spent on the beach, which is a great size beach. It is black sand, but it was very pretty and I so loved it. The pool is great too... but I spent most of the time at the beach, since I could go to the pool without going to Costa Rica. The ocean was warm and calm most of the days. There are jellyfish, so be careful with that... but I never had any issues with them.
The staff and the people at the resort were nice, friendly, and helpful. The language was not a problem; most of them spoke fairly good English.
Be aware that yes, the locals do flood the resort on the weekends. I assume that they have specials going on for the Costa Rican people to come and stay at the resort. There are many of them and the pool and the restaurants get packed. I didn't mind them that much, but I was a bit surprised about this. We went to Rius before, but didn't experience this phenomenon before. I guess just ignore it and enjoy your time on the beach. By Sunday afternoon they are gone.
Overall, it was a great vacation! I love LOVE Costa Rica. We went on a one day tour to the Palo Verde national park and surroundings. Wish we would've done more tours, but only so much time within a week.

  • Stayed July 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
East Liverpool, Ohio
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 11, 2013

When it rains it really rains! and Costa Rica is NO CANCUN! only saw 1 howler monkey. The resort is very nice and clean. Went on the jungle cruise it was nice! Overall I just wasnt impressed.... food sucked too.... and the booze was HORRIBLE! I STAYED SOBER!

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
north hollywood
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 9, 2013

We went to costa rica with a group of 15 people, we all loved it. the best thing about it were the activities, we booked them on the beach with a guy named Eric with The Orange shirt, He took the best care of us we booked 4 activities with him he had the best prices and treated us like family i highly recommend him to everyone who goes there. Overall it was great!!!!

Room Tip: go with the jungle view.
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  • Stayed August 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Guanacaste

Also Known As:
Hotel Riu Guanacaste Costa Rica
Address: Playa Matapalo | Canton de Carrillo, Sardinal, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Guanacaste > Sardinal
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 3 hotels in Sardinal
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Riu Guanacaste 4*
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Opening winter 2009/10. Situated in northern Costa Rica, in Guanacaste. Located on Playa de Matapalo beach. Complimentary sun loungers on the beach. 6-storey main building. Surrounded by 35,000 m2 / 41,86 sq. yards of lush gardens. Closest village: Nuevo Colon. 13 km / 8.1 miles from various shops. 33 km / 20.5 miles from Liberia airport. Credit cards accepted: MasterCard, Amex, Visa ... more   less 
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